Houston-area mother, daughter recall dramatic rescue from Mount St. Helens

July 28, 2013 8:29:46 PM PDT
A mother and daughter returned home to Katy this weekend after their trip-of-a-lifetime nearly ended in tragedy.

The goal was a mother-daughter bonding adventure for Nancy Allen and 18-year old Sara, who is ready to go to college at the University of Texas-San Antonio in a few weeks.

"We just wanted to do something we'd never done before," Sara said.

Well, they certainly did.

They were thrilled when they reached the summit of Mount St. Helens in Washington on Wednesday, but that victory was short-lived when Nancy took a terrible fall.

"I was just thinking about the fact that she could be really hurt to the point she had a concussion or something," Sara said.

Scraped and sore, Nancy was having a difficult time continuing. Daylight was ending, ice was forming and hypothermia was setting in.

"I got service [on a cell phone], and all of a sudden it slipped out of her hand and down the snow," Nancy said.

After some trouble, they were able to call for help. As minutes seemed like hours, Nancy gave her daughter a heart-shaped rock.

"As I was sitting there I said, 'I have to give you something,'" Nancy said. "I reached in my pocket and gave her the rock and said, 'I need to give this to you now.'"

"We thought we're going to die up here and my little brother was going to grow up without a mom," Sara said.

Finally, rescuers reached them.

"We started yelling, yelling, yelling," Nancy said. "The wind was such a factor that night."

She was strapped into a basket and surrounded by warming materials.

The two didn't know they'd make such headlines for what happened next.

Nancy says reports of a wealthy oil woman calling for a helicopter, abandoning rescuers or complaining they were too slow aren't true.

Had Nancy suffered life-threatening injuries, a helicopter would have been automatic, but she didn't. The volcano rescue team told her they still had a six- to seven-hour trek across dangerous terrain.

"I said, 'I don't have seven hours in me. I really don't,'" Nancy said.

So she agreed to pay the helicopter bill for the volunteer operation.

"This is a no brainer, y'all. I mean, $1,300," Nancy said.

But to this mother and daughter, that's not the headline for their story. Making it home is.

"When you get in a situation where you really don't think you are going to make it out alive, transitioning into the normal world, things really don't matter," Nancy said.

Find Christine on Facebook at ABC13ChristineDobbyn or on Twitter at @christinedobbyn

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